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Lack of consent may constitute medical malpractice

A recent lawsuit against a California obstetrician has raised questions about what it means to give informed consent to a procedure and whether a doctor may be held liable if he or she performs procedures without consent, even if no harm arises. In the instant situation, a pregnant woman explicitly told her doctor that she did not want an episiotomy performed and did not consent to this procedure. Despite her instructions to the doctor conducted the episiotomy. She asserts that not only did she not agree to the procedure, the procedure was not needed, and she was harmed as a result.

In certain circumstances, doctors may perform procedures without consent, such as in the case of an emergency. Further if a doctor is in the middle of one procedure, such as an operation, and finds another serious condition that warrants intervention, in general the doctor may be allowed to fix that problem. However, when a patient signs an informed consent, he or she is not abdicating all authority to the doctor. This is a particular concern for pregnant women, where a high percentage of women report disregard of consent during childbirth and the use of unwarranted interventions is prevalent. Further, the prevalence of unwanted child birth interventions often has to do more with where and when the physician was trained, rather than whether the procedure is medically necessary. In this instance, the woman has filed a claim of assault and battery based on the doctor’s unauthorized procedure.

For more information or if you or a loved one has suffered harm due of a medical error or mistake, please contact the experienced Los Angeles medical malpractice lawyers at Bostwick and Peterson for an immediate consultation.


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